I am not sure of the current position, but just a very few years ago I
understood that work done on the M5 in the area around Bristol and going
south-west still had not been published, so the malaise is not restricted to
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Heyworth" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 12:02 PM
Subject: [BRITARCH] repositioning Irish archaeology
some interesting parallels here for the UK perhaps?
University College Dublin News
UCD report calls for repositioning of Irish Archaeology by 2020 to address
The current development-led boom has fundamentally changed Irish
archaeology. Today, virtually all archaeological excavations are undertaken
in response to infra-structural and other developments, whereas before the
boom they were dominated by research concerns.
Recent estimates point to the discovery, on average, of a previously
unrecorded site every two kilometres on infrastructural routes. Over 2,000
archaeological excavations, of varying scale and complexity, are now being
carried out each year.
The archaeological profession has coped well with the unprecedented demand,
but the structures are experiencing extreme pressure.
'Legislation requires developers to engage archaeologists to undertake
pre-construction excavations' Professor Gabriel Cooney, UCD School of
Archaeology says, 'But the problem is that in many cases the archaeologists
are not given the time or financial support to publish excavation reports.
Add to that the lack of storage and exhibition space and consequently the
economic and social value of the investment in the archaeology is lost.'
A Foresight Report titled Archaeology 2020: Repositioning Irish Archaeology
in the Knowledge Society published on 30 May 2006 by the UCD School of
Archaeology addresses the issues and sets out proposals to rectify the
The mounting backlog of unpublished excavations is in many respects the most
disconcerting feature of present-day archaeology in Ireland. And although
this may not be a new issue, it has become an intractable problem over the
last decade. The number of unpublished excavations may now be as many as
4,000 for the island as a whole.
The problem of unpublished excavation reports is further compounded by a
growing concern about the curation and archiving of the paper records and
artefactual data from excavations. The magnitude of the material retrieved
by development-led excavation is overwhelming the provision of storage and
management that exists at present. Museums do not have the capacity to cope
with the influx of archaeological material. Ongoing deterioration of the
quality and usability of archival material and unprocessed environmental
samples makes the process of transforming archaeological excavations into
meaningful knowledge about the past increasingly difficult.
According to this Foresight Report, the central issue of concern in Irish
archaeology is the lack of connection between the vast amount of information
generation and the key purpose of archaeology which is the creation of
knowledge and understanding about the past.
Irish archaeology needs to be re-positioned by shifting the focus of
development-led archaeology from information generation to knowledge
creation. This requires a fundamental sea-change in mindsets within many
public organisations and private companies concerned with archaeology.
The Foresight Report concludes that three overarching enabling measures are
fundamental to the prospects for repositioning Irish archaeology by 2020
including the establishment of
an Archaeological Knowledge Implementation Partnership
a Bureau for Archaeological Publication and
an Inter-Institutional Collaborative Funding System.
The Foresight Report was informed by a Consultative Forum of decision makers
and other stakeholders drawn from both the public and the private sectors.
The draft report was widely circulated for comments and posted on the
websites of both the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and the UCD
School of Archaeology. Preparation of the Foresight report was undertaken by
Professor Gabriel Cooney, UCD School of Archaeology, Dr Muiris O'Sullivan,
Head of UCD School of Archaeology and Dr Liam Downey, Honorary Research
Fellow, UCD School of Archaeology.
The report can be accessed via: www.ucd.ie/archaeology
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